Here is a relatively easy way to get rid of student debt: 1) work for the government or a non-profit, 2) keep up with student loan payments for 10 years and 3) apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, a federal government program that many former students currently rely on to solve their debt troubles.
But the Trump administration on Wednesday signaled it may cancel the program in an effort to cut $10.6 billion from federal education funding.
The Washington Post said in an article that it acquired budget documents, which are supposed to be released to the public next week, mentioning the cuts. There are no further details provided.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program began in 2007. The Washington Post reports over 550,000 people are “on track to receive the benefit.”
Ashley Coleman, assistant director of the Financial Aid and Scholarships office, is one of those people. She said if the federal government denies her the program, she may not be able to fulfill her dream of buying a house.
Coleman, who is $44,000 in debt, is shocked by the possibility of the federal government denying her the debt relief, particularly after she is halfway through the 10-year-long commitment.
Coleman graduated from University of South Dakota in 2010, and her employment here makes her eligible because UO qualifies as an employer to offer eligibility for PSLF.
Coleman is frustrated because she would have chosen a different payment plan if she knew the program would fall through.
Michelle Garibay is also a UO financial aid counselor, who graduated from Western Oregon University. Like Coleman, she is relying on the program to allow her to buy a house instead of paying off student debt.
“It’s kind of scary,” Garibay said. “It just puts a lot more pressure on budgeting your money every month and trying to pay down your loans.”
Garibay and Coleman both counsel students on the program, which number about 200 per year, they said. The two hold workshops every term, but they tell students to be wary of relying on the program because of the turnover in the federal government.
“Administrations change all the time; rules change,” Coleman said.
Coleman said Oregon has 1,614 employers with people submitting paperwork for the PSLF program.
“It’s a scary time to be in higher ed,” Garibay said.
The Trump administration plans on releasing the documents next week, supposedly detailing the future of the PSLF program.
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